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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

328                             THE GAY GENIUS

found that something was quite wrong; he reported that Tseyu had
occupied people's homes by force and that the magistrate of Luichow
had generously entertained and looked after an exiled person. The
magistrate was cashiered and Tseyu was transferred to a district east of
Huichow, where Su Tungpo had once been confined.

Tung Pi was descending like a plague from the Luichow Peninsula
to Hainan. But his assistant, Peng Tsemin, said to him: "Don't forget
that you yourself have children, too." Tung Pi stopped and merely sent!
one of his officials across the sea to find out how Su Tungpo was doing.
The official found that he was living in a government building and
that he had been well treated and befriended by Chang Chung, who
was subsequently dismissed.

Su Tungpo was driven out of the house where he had stayed and
immediately had to build a kind of shanty for himself with whatever
money he had left. This was in a palm grove south of the city. The
people of the district, particularly the young sons of a few poor scholars,
came and helped him build the house with their own hands. It was a
simple house, the size of five "rooms", but probably consisting of three
rooms. The house was christened Kuanglangan, or the "Palm Lodge".
Behind it was the forest, and in his bed at night Su Tungpo could
hear the tribesmen hunting deer, abundant in this region. Sometimes
in the morning a hunter would knock at his door and present him
with some deer-meat. He wrote in May to a friend: "I have been driven
out of a government house and have built myself a little hut which
barely serves the purpose of giving shelter. I have used up all the
money I have. When one finds oneself in such straits, anything may
happen. You just expect it to happen and laugh over it."

He seldom hated anybody, but he certainly did not like Tung Pi.
He had to have his fun about this official who had driven him out of
his house. This official's name, "Pi", has the same sound as the word for
turtle in Chinese, and he wrote an allegory which endedj up with a
remark about Commissioner Turtle. Once he, Su, got drunk, so the
story begins, and by order of the Dragon King was dragged by fish-
headed devils into the sea. He went along in Taoist dress and a yellow
hat and sandals, and soon found himself walking under water. Sud-
denly a great thunderbolt crashed, the sea turned, and in a blinding
flash he found himself standing in the crystal palace of the Dragon
King. As usual, the palace was decorated with pearls, coral, amber, and
other precious stones in great abundance. The Dragon King appeared
fully dressed, accompanied by two maid-servants, and Su asked what
was wanted of him. Very soon the Queen came out from behind the
screen and gave him a piece of precious gauze over ten feet long, upon
which he was asked to write a poem. The writing of the poem was
ie easiest part of it for Su Tungpo. He painted a marvellous picture